In this blog post, Tyler Shores writes about his recent contribution to the book “Building Blocks of Thought: LEGO and the Philosophy of Play.

I recently had a chance to write about LEGO in the just released LEGO and Philosophy book. It’s the latest addition to the always interesting Blackwell Philosophy and Popular Culture series.

The LEGO and Philosophy book covers a number of thought-provoking topics – from LEGO and philosophical values, and questions of gender and race in LEGO mini figures, to Heidegger and ontology, and Lego and metaphysics. You can check out the book’s full table of contents on the Wiley website here.

In my chapter, “Building Blocks of Thought: LEGO and the Philosophy of Play” I discuss a number of ideas through LEGO, as well as exploring some thoughts on the nature LEGO itself as not just a toy or system of play –  but also as a medium for expressing thoughts and ideas. We may even consider LEGO as what Sherry Turtle has called “objects to think with.”

LEGO can serve as a helpful analogy for how philosophical thinking can lead us toward new connections between our thoughts and ideas. One of the things I point out is how LEGO and philosophy invite us to question the nature of play – as well as what philosophy means to us in an everyday context. In my chapter I suggest that play and seriousness in philosophy needn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, it can be more helpful to think of philosophy as “serious play.”

Perhaps this is why LEGO has become so indelibly tied to education and learning unlike any other toy in the world. From the LEGO school in Billund, Denmark and the LEGO research from the MIT Media lab and of course Professor Paul Ramchandan the first ever LEGO Professor of Play at the University of Cambridge , LEGO, play, and learning seem to fit together as well as the studs and tubes that connect LEGO bricks.

In much educational research, we understand how play is both a means to an end and an end in itself. As Fred Rogers reminds us: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”

To discuss the new LEGO and Philosophy book, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the very cool Part-Time Genius podcast with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur. Mango and Will are the creators of perhaps the world’s greatest online trivia source, Mental Floss. The Part-Time Genius podcast is their latest creation, comprising an eclectic mix of questions and fun topics. You can check out their podcast on Twitter and Facebook and iTunes.

Do you have questions or thoughts to share about LEGO and Philosophy? Feel free to get in touch via Twitter (@tylershores) or in the comments below. Thanks!


Tyler Shores is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include the experience of reading in print and digital mediums, literacy, and the impact of digital technology in education. Tyler has published on social media, online culture, and philosophy. He received his Master’s Degree from the University of Oxford, and his experience includes working in online education at Stanford University, Google, and serving as a director of digital textbooks for an educational nonprofit organization.

Posted by:fersacambridge

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